One out of every three Americans adult are living with extreme stress and a whooping 48 percent of Americans believe that their stress has increased over the past five years (1). Studies show that stress causes more than half of Americans to have fights with the people around them; usually those who they love most (1). On average, adults rate their stress level at a 5 out of 10-point scale, where 1 is equivalent to little or no stress and 10 is the maximum amount of stress. These adults also admit that their stress levels are higher than what they consider to be healthy (1).
What causes stress?
There are a great number of emotional, psychological, and physical disorders linked to stress, including depression, anxiety, heart attack, stroke, vitamin deficiencies, cancer, and more (2). Since stress is the body’s reaction to a harmful situation—whether real or imagined—it only makes sense that your body would react to it.
The most common reactions to stress:
- Weight gain is one of the most outwardly noticeable effects of stress. Weight management is already a difficult task to begin with, but will be made even more challenging when you add involvement of high stress. According to research, stress causes an increase in cortisol production in your body. Cortisol is a hormone meant to stabilize fats and carbohydrates and also supports sugar levels in the bloodstream. Too much of this hormone, however, will cause you to overeat and testosterone production will lessen, which in turn causes the body to burn less calories. This is how the stressed-out-human gains weight.
- Skin issues is another painfully noticeable change that tends to occur under the influence of stress. Acne and even some severe skin diseases have been directly correlated with stress levels.
- Illness can also be a stress induced problem. Because of the chemical changes that stress causes on your body, it decreases the immune system’s strength and makes you more susceptible illnesses.
- Sweating can often occur under the pressure of stress, though it is also caused by anxiety, heat, exhaustion, and other health conditions (3).
- Difficulty concentrating can also be brought on by stress. You may lose track of your tasks since you are distracted by the intensity of the problems causing the stress (2).
- Hair Loss is one of the lesser recognized effects of stress. Research has revealed that chronic stress can cause hair to fall out, since it often causes a reaction in your body to make hair roots fall into a resting state. Hair loss can also be genetic, however (4).
- Headaches or migraines are one of the most common side effects of stress. A study of over 150 military service members at a headache clinic revealed that 67% admitted that their headaches were triggered by stress (5).
- Disrupted sleeping patterns are directly correlated to higher numbers of stressful events (1).
Stress is wildly common, especially in today’s day and age. The definition of success is constantly evolving, productivity is measured closely by managers, and what people want always seems to be just beyond reach. Any of these scenarios, and many more, can cause mental and physical stress. As a result, your body reacts a certain way in order to protect you. So when experiencing stress symptoms, it is important to address them appropriately rather than to allow them to worsen.
- American Psychological Association (2007). Stress, a major health problem in the U.S. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/index.aspx
- The American Institute of Stress (2018). Stress effects. Retrieved from https://www.stress.org
- The Healthline (2018). 11 signs and symptoms of too much stress. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com
- Providr (2017). 8 signs that your body is very stressed. Retrieved from https://www.providr.com
- NCBI (2010). Headache triggers in the US military. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov